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Youth Ministry Resources - 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A: Matthew 18:21-35 - Forgive each other - 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today's parable follows on from last week's formula for dealing with problems of wrong doing in the community. The focus is completely on forgiveness, something that comes more easily to some than to others. There are too many stories of people who have walked away from their families and their friends because of a lack of forgiveness. Many of us could reflect on the various relationships in our lives and be aware of difficulties that strain our friendships, but the question remains - what do we do about it?

We hear the parable of the king who decided to settle his accounts and the first servant brought to him owes him an amount of money that we would associate with the richest people in Australia. So the evangelist is trying to point out that the amount is ridiculously large and the man would have no hope of repaying it so that the focus is on the incredible generosity and compassion of the king in forgiving the debt.

We then hear of that same servant's lack of compassion and greed when he insisted that a fellow servant be put in gaol until he can repay the debt. There is a serious lack of forgiveness here that then affects the other servants and this is what sin does. Too frequently people kid themselves into thinking that their sin does not affect anyone else however, the ripple of sin ends up affecting the whole community.

We too are servants of God's Basileia or Kingdom, we too continue to experience the incredible generosity of God's forgiveness and the abundance of grace to be open to our self-revealing God. We frequently pray the Our Father, where we ask God to "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…" but sometimes we focus on the first bit where we are forgiven instead of the whole concept of forgiveness and apply that to all of our relationships.

It is when we contemplate the enormity of the self-sacrifice of Jesus that we come close to understanding how much God loves us and in a relationship of love there must be forgiveness. If God is willing to forgive the exorbitant debt we owe God, surely we can forgive the insignificant debts owed us. It might take a phone call, a visit, a letter, an invitation or even a Christmas card to reconnect with those we have found hard to forgive - our reward will be peace.

Cate Mapstone

Year C: Luke 15:1-32 - The parables of the lost - 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

This is a reasonably long section of Scripture to hear and reflect on. So long, in fact, that many will choose the shorter version which focuses on the lost son. The passage includes three parables about the depth of God's mercy and how foolish that might appear by human standards - as foolish as a shepherd who leaves his flock to seek out the lost sheep - as foolish as a woman who calls together the whole village to celebrate when she finds a lost coin - as foolish as a father who despite the horror of what his son has said and done, rushes out from the family home to welcome the returning lost son. It is fortunate that God is our judge and will show mercy because humans are much harsher judges.

The parables are told because the Pharisees and the scribes complained "this man welcomes sinners and eats with them." The constant issue between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees remains - are some people outside the limits of God's mercy? Jesus insists throughout the use of these parables that no one is outside the limits of God's mercy.

The key requirement to receiving God's mercy is conversion - conversion from self to God, conversion from bad to good, conversion from selfishness to inclusion of all. One of the fruits of this conversion is joy - joy when the sheep is found - joy when the small coin is found - joy when the lost son returns -joy if and when the lost brother comes in for the feast. This joy is celebrated by summoning friends and neighbours for a communal celebration.

While each of us who has been a "lost son" is immensely grateful for the mercy we have been shown, a number of people have frequently pointed out that they think the older brother was given a raw deal. It is important to place ourselves in the role of the older brother or the faithful one.

Is there an element of resentment or close-mindedness in us when we see someone else receive favour when we are "clearly" more deserving? Do we seek praise and thanks for doing what a good and faithful daughter or son should do? Or, do we recognise the blessings we have and celebrate those blessings with all we come in contact with. Do those who meet us wonder and reflect on why we have such joy in our lives? Joy, because we have returned to God and turned away from selfishness and myopia.

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Youth Ministry Resources 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time